Mind Your Health

The irony is thick: I was emceeing the Alzheimer’s Association gala on the second day of March when my brain failed me in front of 400+ guests.

I stood on stage –which I don’t recall – and spoke to those in attendance – which I don’t recall – before my behavior concerned Bonnie Hackbarth, one of the organizers, so greatly she knew she had to step in.

Based on several accounts, before stepping up to the podium, I seemed out of sorts, but no one wanted to embarrass me by saying so. Then, when I took the microphone, I quickly went from not OK to not making sense and was soon ushered off stage, down an elevator and into the back of an ambulance.

Scared, confused and angry – I didn’t know I wasn’t making sense and couldn’t understand what was happening – I refused to go to the hospital, even though the EMTs did their darndest to convince me as they tested me for signs of preliminary possibilities.

Soon, I was speaking normally and making sense, which made me only want out of the ambulance even more. A friend picked me up and drove me home, where I walked inside and curled up on the sofa, mortified, exhausted and bewildered. What in the world had happened to me?

The next morning, I woke up and tried talking out loud to my dogs to test myself. Something wasn’t right. I was slow and unable to retrieve words I knew so well. I spoke on the phone with several friends but hours later couldn’t remember which ones.

When I recalled the blur of the previous evening and realized whatever had happened to me had occurred in front of at least 400 people, I was embarrassed both that it had happened so publicly and that I didn’t know what had transpired. When I looked at my dog, Zeke, and couldn’t remember his name and only knew that it started with “Z,” I broke down in tears.

My calendar for the following week was packed. I don’t have time to go to the doctor, I told myself. Nearly 48 hours after the episode, I made time. Finally. And it’s a good thing I did.

I’ll share the rest of my story in next week’s issue. It’s a cautionary tale of what not to do, but it’s also one Norton Neuroscience Institute Resource Center has heard far too many times. All too often, we don’t listen to our bodies and refrain from seeking help for myriad reasons. And sometimes, when we know something is wrong, we don’t always know where to seek advice.

The institute is hosting its inaugural Neuroscience Expo on June 1 to fill that need. The free event is for anyone interested in learning about various neurological conditions, including epilepsy, migraines, Parkinson’s disease and Multiple sclerosis. The expo is also an opportunity to seek answers from leading experts and to meet other people – like me – who have “been there,” whether as the ailing individual or someone who cares. Information about how to register is below.

Contact Angie at angie@voice-tribune.com or 502.551.2698.